By way of protesting the Election of the Chief Executive of Macau that will take place on 31 August, three groups are joining forces to form the “Electoral Affairs Commission on the Civil Referendum 2014 on Chief Executive Election”.
The referendum organized by the Macau Conscience, the Macao Youth Dynamics and the Open Macau Society is informal and lacks legal effect. Nevertheless, according to commission member Jason Chao, the vote “gives citizens an opportunity to experience the exercise of civil rights and civil liberty.”
The organizations suggest two motions for the ballot. The first multiple choice is “Should the Chief Executive of the Macao SAR be elected by universal suffrage in 2019?” The second motion is designed with two scenarios – single candidate and multiple candidates. The motion could be either “Do you have confidence in the sole candidate in the Chief Executive Election 2014 [name of the candidate] to become the Chief Executive?” or “Which candidate in the Chief Executive Election 2014 you are in favor of becoming the Chief Executive?”
The referendum will take place between 24 August and 30 August, including online voting and physical voting in polling stations. The electronic voting will be open from 11 a.m., 24 August to 23:59 p.m. 30 August. Organizers also plan to set up five physical polling stations open on Aug. 24 and 30. “But it also depends on how many volunteers we can have,” said Chao yesterday.
Voters can either cast a ballot online using their computers or mobile phones, or proceed to a polling station in person to cast a ballot with paper and rubberstamp.
Votes will be counted on 31 August 2014. The commission will announce the results of the referendum after the result of the official Chief Executive Election is announced. Computers will scan and count the ballot paper collected at the physical polling stations.
Members of the commission said they are optimistic about the number of would-be voters. “Definitely more than 400 hundred people will vote. In a way it will be more representative than the official one,” Chao stated.
The official body that is eligible for voting for the next MSAR leader is comprised of 400 members.
Taking advantage of the official election plus the recent referendum on democratic reform in Hong Kong, the group hopes the campaign will foster residents’ interest in politics.
Chao said they had expected fierce criticism from the pro-
establishment camp and that there might even be hacking into their voting website. Without disclosing more details, Chao declared that there would be some security measures. “I promise you that the measures that we are studying will be released in the final report,” he said.
The commission is launching a public consultation on the referendum. Interested citizens are welcome to offer their opinion on the plan by 19 July 2014 (Friday).
The ballot paper will be available in three languages, Chinese, English and Portuguese. The consultation paper will be available in Chinese and English.
Similar referendum in HK drew nearly 800,000 votes
An informal referendum aimed at bolstering support for greater democracy in Hong Kong was held last month, drawing nearly 800,000 votes and the ire of Beijing, which denounced it as a political farce.
According to organizers after excluding duplicate votes, some 787,767 ballots were cast over 10 days. Voters, who were required to submit their identity card numbers, cast ballots online, through a smartphone app or at polling stations. Voters had a choice of three proposals on democratic reform, all of which included so-called public nomination.
The government of Hong Kong, which has 3.5 million registered voters, said in a statement that the unofficial referendum has “no legal effect.”